Delay to digital hospital standards guide

Handbook release pushed back

The release of Standards Australia's Digital Hospitals Handbook has been pushed back to later this year.

As recently as last month, the independent, government-approved standards body, had said the document was on track for a March release, but today reset expectations.

"Our ambition had been to have this handbook ready earlier in this year. It's still under draft with an expectation that it will be published later this year," Standards Australia CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans told the Digital Healthcare Summit in Sydney today.

The handbook – originally proposed by Department of Health and Human Services Victoria – will lay out a set of principles and recommendations that inform the design and implementation of digital hospitals, Evans said.

Work on the handbook, which will be the first of its kind in the world, started in 2015, led by the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council and the National Health CIO Forum. Since then a long-list of organisations, including government bodies, clinicians associations and engineers have been involved, Evans said.

When released the handbook – IT039 – will include a clear definition of 'digital hospital', and guidance relating to systems architecture and design, programme management, business case formulation, leadership, staffing, risk management, governance, change management and continuing operations. UnitingCare's St Stephen's Hospital in Hervey Bay, which opened in 2014, was used as an exemplar.

"This is about a group of key stakeholders coming together to develop a handbook that Australia said is important for us. It's important for our hospitals, for us, to be ready for the mega-trend to really hit, when our aging population and demographic is going to put more demand on our facilities," Evans said.

"The future directions for digital architecture within the health industry is an important consideration, and how standardisation fits into that with new technology, and thinking about how can we achieve better outcomes and impact for health for patients."

Blockchain dissected

Earlier this week Standards Australia released its Roadmap for Blockchain Standards report and in April will host the first international ISO meeting for blockchain standards.

Evans added the distributed ledger technology has a number of use cases within health, particularly around clinical trials data.

"Over the next five to 10 years it will be something that we're talking about, much more than a curiosity, of being in the dark-web and goodness knows what happens with bitcoins. It will be an important part of our thinking," she said.

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